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Keywords:

  • cardiovascular disease;
  • evaluation design and research;
  • health promotion;
  • health services research;
  • rural health

Abstract

Purpose

Despite increasing frequency, little evidence guides cholesterol screening in less traditional health care settings, such as rural health fairs.

Methods

The Miller School of Medicine Department of Community Service (DOCS) is a student-run organization providing free basic health care to underserved South Florida communities. We retrospectively reviewed all new patients seen at 2007 DOCS rural fairs to describe their low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) values. In addition, we assessed if patient characteristics were associated with cholesterol abnormalities and whether patients with abnormalities who returned to a subsequent fair in 2008 or 2009 improved their cholesterol.

Findings

Of 252 patients, 145 (58%) had an LDL cholesterol over 129 mg/dL and 61 (24%) had an HDL cholesterol below 40 mg/dL or 50 mg/dL for males and females, respectively. Baseline LDL cholesterol was not associated with body-mass index (BMI), age over 60 years, gender, healthy lifestyle habits, or insurance status. Of 36 patients with elevated LDL cholesterol and a follow-up screening, 24 (67%) reduced their LDL cholesterol by at least 16 mg/dL though reductions were not associated with BMI reduction, and 22 (61%) increased their HDL cholesterol by at least 5 mg/dL, trending with BMI reduction.

Conclusions

Cholesterol screening at rural fairs can identify a high proportion of patients with abnormal cholesterol, including those who might not be considered at high risk. Although this may catalyze favorable cholesterol changes, the lack of an association with weight loss suggests patients seek additional medical care, which should be considered before offering cholesterol screening at fairs.